The United Kingdom has put in place a new law that will see Nigerian students and others studying in the UK from bringing their family as dependents except “under specific circumstances.”
This is as the UK government aims to bring immigration into the country that stands at around one million down.
Under the new rule, the UK will remove the permission for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed to prevent misuse of the visa system.
Sky News also added that “there will also be a review of the maintenance requirement for students and dependents and a crackdown on “unscrupulous” education agents “who make use of inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education”.
This change takes effect in January 2024 to allow students starting courses in the UK time to plan to adapt to the new development.
In a written ministerial statement published on Tuesday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said recent immigration figures had shown an “unexpected rise” in the number of dependents coming to the UK alongside international students.
In a related development there are indications that the new immigration rules put in place by the United Kingdom have become a source of worry for British universities due to their financial implication.
This followed warnings by leaders in the UK higher education sector on the possible aftermath of the development.
An analysis of visas the United Kingdom issued to Nigerians in 2022 has revealed that more visas were granted to dependants than students.
According to a report by Evening Standard, a Director of Universities UK International, Jamie Arrowsmith, called on the government to limit the impact of changes to the immigration rules on universities already under “serious financial pressures.”
He added that the changes to rules on dependants are likely to have a “disproportionate impact on women and students from certain countries”.
“Anything that threatens to affect the UK’s global success as a top destination for international talent needs to be considered very carefully,” Mr Arrowsmith said.
On his part, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), Nick Hillman, said he hoped that Suella Braverman would now lobby the Chancellor “to help universities recoup their losses” following the announcement.
He said, “This is not a wise move because every part of the UK benefits from the presence of international students, and, if they are discouraged from coming to the UK, they won’t stay at home but instead go to our competitors.”
Mr Hillman added, “As a country, we risk cutting off our nose to spite our face. Given that international student fees subsidise the teaching of home students as well as UK research, I hope the Home Secretary will now be lobbying the Chancellor to help universities recoup their losses.”
Last week, the Office for Students, warned that an over-reliance on tuition fees from overseas students – especially from a single country like China – is a financial risk for English universities. Many of the institutions with the largest number of Chinese students are members of the Russell Group.